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Secretary General of the International Turkish and Ukrainian Businessmen Association Ipek Aydin Uluişik: Simplification and transparency of Ukrainian tax and customs procedures will stimulate economic relationships with Turkey
Sep 02 2009, 14:09

Secretary General of the International Turkish and Ukrainian Businessmen Association Ipek Aydin Uluişik has kindly agreed to give an interview to our correspondent and to tell about the prospects of Ukrainian-Turkish business cooperation...

Mrs. Ipek, Odesa Office of the International Turkish and Ukrainian Business Association, where you work as Secretary General, has recently become operational. So we would like to ask you to cast light on some aspects of your organization's operation as well as the state and prospects of the cooperation between Turkey and Ukraine and Odesa Region in particular.

Well, the idea of founding International Turkish Ukrainian Businessmen Association (TUID) was initiated in March 2004. Thanks to diligence of few Turkish businessmen and moral support of our Embassy we were registered as a non-profitable organization in accordance with Ukrainian legal system. TUID accepts both individual and corporate members.

The companies registered in TUID, are engaged entirely in different fields of industry from construction, telecommunications, textile, banking to retail trade and purchasing raw materials.

Turkish construction companies working in Ukraine have established a very good reputation as responsible and competent partners, successfully completing projects of building hotels, dwellings, business and entertainment centres and in such a way reinforced the strength of Turkish contractors in dealing with almost all kinds of civil and industrial projects.

As to the Ukrainian sphere of telecommunication, especially to the field of GSM operators, an important contribution is made by Turkish investors, among which are a lot of our members.

Turkish textile and leather industry have achieved leadership positions not only in European market but in the International one as well. Quite a lot of Turkish textile firms working in Ukraine are dealing with retail trade and import.

Tourism industry is one more important sphere of collaboration between our countries. Turkish tourism companies successfully provide their business activity in Ukraine. Also due to the merits of our members-Turkish tourism agencies, working in Ukraine, the number of Ukrainian tourists, visiting Turkey, is rapidly increasing year to year.

TUIDs aim is to establish financial bilateral relations allowing to enlarge the volume of trade. We are trying to facilitate commercial operations of the Turkish businessmen in Ukraine through providing access to information, resources, contacts and business suport. Our first priority is to respect legislation of the land and concentrate on doing business in a fair environment.

M/V Yuzhnaya Palmira previously sailing between Odesa and Turkey has now returned to her line. Do you think this will somehow influence the relationships between Ukraine and Turkey?

As they say in Ukrferry, M/V Yuzhanaya Palmira will stop its trips by the end of September this year. There are couple reasons for that. First of all, seasonally in October and in November the quantity of passengers and cargo significantly decreases. Therefore, the expenses of the ship are not covered.

One of the managers of the Ukrferry said that the amount of cargo from Turkey to Ukraine had lessened over the years and kept decreasing each year. He said, the legal procedure for carry-ons and cargo, and the rate of dollar are the most obvious ones

Yuzhanaya Palmira will no longer serve between Odesa and Istanbul. In the first sight that would be read as a negative sign; however, as far as transportation concerns there are other channels serving for the same purpose. As I know, M/V Caledonia, even though she is smaller in size, will cover Yuzhnaya Palmiras route in the sea sailing the whole year round. There is Turkish Airlines travelling from Odesa to Turkey seven days of the week.

If you are implying suitcase trade or in other words shuttle trade, I believe the off-the-books businesses are forced to get more legitimate, since their functioning space is narrowing down. We as the businessmen organization encourage our members to operate and conduct their businesses in accordance with the law of the land.

Turkish Ukrainian Businessmen Association has got over 160 members in Ukraine and they collectively employ thousands of Ukrainians providing them with exposure to international business practices, these businessmen are among some of the major tax-payers in Ukraine.

Yet one needs to admit that the complicated regulatory framework in Ukraine sets up substantial barriers on the development of business activities, so we try and collect the legal information, changes in procedure and so on and inform our members about those changes and legal peculiarities.

According to the information we have, there are a lot of Turkish businessmen operating in the sphere of tourism, who have been continuously saying they would like to develop Ukrainian tourism new hotels, resort complexes etc. Could you give any comments on that issue, please?

Ukraine is a destination on the crossroads between Central and Eastern Europe, between the North and the South. Since 2005 the citizens of the European Union, USA, Canada and Switzerland no longer require a visa to visit Ukraine for travel purposes. No visa has been required for the citizens of Russia, and other CIS countries either. Ukrainian tourism is one of the pretty fast growing branches of the state economy.

For the last two years over 20 million people have annually been visiting Ukraine. For instance in 2008 over 25 million people travelled to Ukraine as tourists. Ukraine has great potential as a tourism destination. Therefore, this potential should be taken into account by businessmen and thats why there are a lot of investments coming here concerning tourism.

However, what is lacking is the quality of the service sector personnel. Qualified human resources for the service sector are of crucial importance. In this regard, these investments need to be assisted or accompanied with vocational schools. What I mean is if you are paying for a five-star hotel you will probably want to get five-star service along with it, you know, so personnel training is vital in that sense.

One of the other issues on this topic is the logistics. Odesa is a great vacation spot with developing infrastructure. However, the airport of the city is insufficient, and, I would say, out-of-date. Turkish Airlines have trips from Odesa to Turkey every day and would like to expend, many airline companies are also willing to develop new trips to Odesa. Nonetheless, they cannot do it due to the airports insufficient capacity. So, I believe, this is the issue the municipal, and maybe the regional authorities have to pay a bit more attention to, then things are sure to get much better. It will also affect the prices the prices are going to get lower. The more there are companies providing travel services the lower the prices are, thats natural

What do you believe to be the most attractive spheres for investment for Ukrainian businessmen in Turkey and vice versa for Turkish businessmen in Ukraine?

Ukrainian-Turkish bilateral trade has exceeded 6 milliard USD.

Ukrainian export to Turkey is composed of such groups of goods as iron and steel, mineral fuels, fertilizers, organic and inorganic chemicals, agriculture and food industry products, wood, plastics etc. and on the contrary, Turkey is mainly exporting textile products and ready-to-wear clothes, machinery and equipment composed of plastic articles, agricultutre and food industry products, and ceramic products.

Ukraines fertile black soil is so valuable for agriculture and food industry it could be the first priority issues for investing.

Taken as a whole, all kinds of service sector, say, tourism and finance, manufacturing, for instance, textile, food products based on grains, sunflower are good areas for investment in Ukraine, but Ukraine has to improve its legal infrastructure to attract more investment. Europe and Russia are open, however Ukraine is not really open, I mean, as far as it concerns laws. Ukrainian taxation and customs procedure seem to be non-transparent and tough for foreign businessmen. I know of the cases when foreign ships could not enter Ukrainian ports, and the goods they were carrying onboard soon became no use, they spoilt. Thats where Ukrainian government has to contribute and improve these procedures, to make them people-friendly and transparent.

As for Turkey, agriculture, live animal stock and related to food products, manufacturing like machinery, and automotive parts can be good areas for investment. We expect Ukrainian businessmen will find these sphere interesting too.

Turkey became one of the most favourite places of recreation for Ukrainians. What do you think is the secret of Turkey being so attractive for tourism?

With one foot in Europe and the other one in Middle East, Turkey symbolizes a blend of oriental and modern, of splendour and neatness and of dazzling urbanity with that of peaceful natural beauty.

There are many reasons why Turkey is so popular among Ukrainians and other nations. First of all, the climate is very favourable, and then the quality of services and many luxurious resorts are available at quite low prices. In addition to that, simplified visa regime encourages travellers to go to Turkey. Especially with all-inclusive resorts, Antalya became the centre of attraction for tourists all around the world. Comparing to other countries the quality is very high and prices are very low. For example, for 500 USD one can have a vacation for a week at an all-inclusive resort providing high-quality service; and the round trip plane ticket from Ukraine is included to this price.

Turkey is competitive in the sphere of tourism.

Ecological experts have not once stated there should be Ukrainian-Turkish cooperation in the sphere of environmental protection within the BSEC. What particularly can be done by Ukrainian and Turkish businessmen? (Concerning Serpents Island and the entire Black Sea Shelf)

Both Ukraine and Turkey are developing economies, so you can hardly speak of ecological consciousness when it comes to a country with developing economics.

However, awareness raising campaigns can get attention of the sensitive parties. For example, I believe Turkish and Ukraine Businessmen can found a foundation that may be connected to BSEC Black Sea Economic Cooperation which concerns and deals with the ecological issues of Black Sea. If this foundation may find ground, so that it can be widened to the other countries which have costs on the Black Sea. Actually, the topic of environmental protection within the Black Sea Basin is one of the core areas on the EU operational programmes under European Neighbourhood and Partnership Instrument. The program aims at a stronger and more sustainable economic and social development of the Black Sea Basin region. And one of the priority areas concerns sharing resources and competencies for environmental protection and conservation. Therefore, it is possible to apply for a grant on this line just to raise awareness to this topic.

What is being done in the framework of cultural cooperation between Ukraine and Turkey?

Well, every year basic routine is being done by official authorities. For example, regarding information policy; Embassies and Consulates are informing on the main events occurring in Turkey or Ukraine by means of releases and events for the press.

In addition to that, some cultural activities are being organized. For example, this year famous Turkish flutists and pianists came to Ukraine to perform. Turkish films displayed in Kyiv International Film Festival and in the Festival of European Cinema in Ukraine. A workshop was organized in Kyiv about Istanbul cultural capital of Europe 2010. And works of Turkish photographers on a theme Istanbul were displayed at the exhibition.

The two countries are so close to each other, but we are not that close in cultural respect. I believe, a lot of more things can be done. For instance exchange programmes for students can be arranged. The cultural events could be spread to other cities than major ones etc. Also, the organization of joint cultural projects could be arranged, for example, photo-exhibitions «Ukraine by vision of Turks and Turkey by vision of Ukrainians».

Thank you for such an interesting and substantial conversation. Lets hope it will help develop the cooperation between our countries. Good luck and success attend you in what you are doing!

Thank you. Good luck to you too.


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